Keelan: Burlington, stop digging the hole

By Don Keelan

For many of us in southwestern Vermont, and maybe elsewhere, Burlington was the place to go and spend not just a day but a week. The Queen City is blessed with a spectacular geographic location between two ancient mountain ranges, the Green and the Adirondack Mountains.

Don Keelan

Not enough beauty? How about miles of waterfront bordering the sixth largest lake in America, Lake Champlain: nature’s connector between Lake George to the south and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the north.

What nature didn’t provide to Burlington, its citizens did in prior years with incredible foresight. The preeminent city on the lake became home to a world-class university, liberal arts colleges, an international airport and home to the Vermont Air National Guard, and principal U.S. and State government offices took up residency. Also, some of Vermont’s largest nonprofit organizations call Burlington home, including UVM Medical Center, Vermont Housing and Finance Agency, Hunger Free Vermont, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Vermont, and scores of others.

Burlington’s business and government leaders decided to make the city an even greater shopping destination not too many years ago. They did so by closing down vehicular traffic that traversed several blocks on Church Street and made the area into an outside pedestrian shopping mall; the envy of many towns and the delight of visitors and local shop keepers.  River-edge bike and walking paths soon followed.

The City’s proximity to an Interstate highway makes Burlington an international destination with Montreal only 90 minutes away.

The vision for Burlington materialized in the 1980s and 90s, and the city became a mecca for tourists, businesses, and government. The city gained national attention as one of the top ten American locales to retire. And then, about four years ago, the city dug a hole.

The physical hole is commonly referred to as City Place. The hole is the public face of a proposed mega real estate venture consisting of hundreds of residences and thousands of square feet of office and retail space. The price tag is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, the site is a fair-size crater surrounded by fencing.

If this unsightly scar was not bad enough, the city leaders metaphorically continued digging. For many of us non-residents, the question is why?

The most recent “excavation” was several weeks ago when the city council in a tied vote failed to appoint the City’s two-year acting police chief, Jon Murad, as permanent chief. Murad’s credentials are impeccable: why he would want to lead a police force that has been decimated and maligned is a mystery.

Once one of America’s most respected police departments of 104 sworn officers, it now has only 58, with more officers preparing to resign. No city in Vermont has merchants engaging private security personnel to escort their employees at night, except Burlington. Two major retailers are leaving the city; the “hole” just got deeper.

As long as the elected leaders and others in the city continue to lead and govern solely through the lens of poverty, racism, homelessness, climate change, anti-business, and policing, the once one of America’s favorite cities to live, work, or visit will become a “no go place.”

When he was Chief of Police in Rutland, Vermont, Colonel James Baker (VSP Ret.) often noted, “Public safety is tantamount to economic development.” What is needed is for the Burlington city leaders to “stop digging the hole deeper” and get back to leading.

Personally, when I was involved with the Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Professional Responsibility Board, attending continuing CPA education courses, or visiting a daughter at UVM, a stay in Burlington was a treat. I could not wait to make the two 1/2-hour drive. The city had everything one could wish; it was indeed a jewel. It is time for the city’s leaders to break out the polish and shine their jewel. Do not allow it to continue to tarnish.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Dick Hawyard
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13 thoughts on “Keelan: Burlington, stop digging the hole

  1. I saw this coming years ago. People visiting me would say ” Burlington is such a nice place” My response was always, The only thing nice about Burlington is that it is close to VT. I.E. it does not really represent the real VT.

  2. Democrats wind up burning their own cities down at some point- by the time they do we are glad to see them do it.
    It seems like by the time it happens, that is just what is needed.
    This right here is how that slide downward winds gets going.

  3. I find it interesting that Blue states with Blue legislatures and with Blue Mayors and even Blue city councils tend to be the worst run, worst economic declining, worst homelessness, and worst crime-ridden cities. Why is this? Serious question. When progressives hold all the power to do whatever they want, where are all of the utopian dreams? Where is all of the wealth, inclusiveness, and prosperity?

  4. I left Burlington and Vermont 2+ years ago. I continue to maintain ties with VT through friendships I cherish; but I am grateful every day I left the wingnut state as I have continued to refer to it. Or the California of the East Coast. What a shame the hole is getting bigger and you who are there must watch Burlington sink deeper into its accelerating dystopia.

  5. Agreed. I no longer come to Burlington as it’s become a sleazy unwelcoming place. I wouldn’t want to walk on Church St or go to the waterfront anymore. I honestly don’t feel safe there. And being unvaxed I’m unwelcome anyway. What a shame.

      • “The fools in charge”, put in place by a world wide socialist “regime” that desires complete submission by those they feel less than them. Time to eliminate Dominion, electronic voting and paper ballot wins to those who Love and Cherish Burlington, and Vermont as a whole.

        • And lets not forget no to 5G the life killing machine that knows no difference between life forces but deads them all… birds, bees, deer, bear, babies, children, moms, dads, sisters, cows, horses, cats, dogs…llama and donkey…ALL die beneath IOT (the Internet of Things 5G makes ready)…the wet dream of globalists for controlling access to food, banking, and communications – in other words, hostage taking at their whim.

          Burlington is a flag carrying SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) city that is FUNDED (along with Montpelier and Brattleboro) by the UN Sustainable Development fiduciary interests IF they comply with setting in place the NWO.

          Burlington is a pit of corruption, perversion, and godlessness, and purely a city made for the enslavement of humanity for profit. It is SO laden with EMFs that no wildlife (birds for instance) exist there anymore (or in most of Vermont now with Scotty boy’s 100 new antennae swathing us in poisonous rays)…and the profiteers that ushered this in are do-gooders who ‘know better’ and take their orders from Klaus Schwab (You will own nothing and be happy), and making Schwabs’s dreams come true in Vermont:
          You will own nothing and you will be happy.
          Our State and local government are literally making refugees of Vermonters.
          Send them back to the King who sent these flying monkeys!
          Down with tyrants!

  6. The vote to maintain progressive stalemate on the City Council affirms that BTV’s voter base is increasingly made up of subsidized renters, students and deadbeats with no real skin in the game. The city will continue it’s moral, fiscal and law-and-order decline. What a shame. In the past, the biggest problem visitors to Burlington would complain about was the lack of parking. That hasn’t been a problem for a while now, since people of quality avoid the place. Who wants to bring their 10-year-old shoe shopping on Church St. and have to explain to them about panhandlers, junkies and untreated mentally ill people cursing at the sky?

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